Retiring in Colombia

Coming from the northern climes, I can recall the appeal that retiring to Florida and Arizona had to the peers of my parents and grandparents. Oh the thrill of spending five or six months playing bridge and shuffleboard and searching for the best deals for a seniors’ breakfast ! At eighteen, I made my first Spring Break visit to Florida and with what I saw, I decided that I certainly had no interest in partaking in this kind of retirement, even if it was retiring in Colombia or some other exotic country.

Retirement in the 21st century should bring new adventure and excitement. After all, 60 is the new 40 !!

Depending on departure and destination cities, Colombia is on average only a short three-hour flight from the U.S. and five to six hours from many Canadian destinations. Having only recently spread the welcome-mat to discount air carriers such as JetBlue and Spirit, and also having recently signed an “Open Skies” agreement with the US, Colombia is not only stimulating an increase in tourism, but is also reaffirming its strategic position for investors interested in taking advantage of Colombia’s emerging markets.

Colombia is not only well situated for travel to the north but most major cities in South America become a relatively easy hop, skip and a jump from the major air hubs. By choosing Colombia as your principal retirement residence you can easily do your favourite polka in Santiago (there is a strong German influence there) or tango your way across the dance floor in Buenos Aires.

We are often asked, “What is there to do in Colombia ?”   “Why should I consider retiring in Colombia ?”

The New York Times calls Colombia one of the best places for tourism, drawing more arrivals than any other Latin American country. Based on beauty, culture, affordability and safety, Budget Travel ranks Colombia as one of the top ten must see destinations for 2011. Lonely Planet says that Colombia is back, is safe to visit and travelers are discovering what they’ve been missing. MSNBC’s Destination Travel states that Colombia is not only safe, but that it has mass tourist appeal. Frommer’s votes Cartagena among the world’s 12 best travel destinations. The New York Times tipped the Colombian city of Cali as one of the best travel destinations of 2011, adding that Colombia as a country was the second most recommended travel destination of 2010 by the readers of the Times. Travel Destinations refers to San Andres in Colombia as an “Island Paradise.”… It’s Time to Go!

Colombia is home to an amazing array of activities and attractions ranging from stunning culturally rich colonial cities and countless quaint pueblos to exotic sun-drenched Caribbean beaches. From expansive verdant green plains to the towering, snow-capped Andean and Sierra Nevadan mountains, and to the deep, dense jungle of the Amazon, Colombia has it all ! Along with its pristine beaches washed by the waters of both the Pacific and Atlantic Caribbean seas, it could arguably be said that Colombia has more geographical diversity than nearly any other country.

Not to be out shown by geographical diversity only however, Colombia also possesses an amazing cultural wealth and diversity. Offering traveler and resident alike fine dining, art and theatre in its larger cities, and countless folkloric festivals and opportunities for exploration throughout the country, there is never a time for boredom in Colombia. Salt and freshwater fishing, trekking, scuba diving, shopping, spectator sports, horseback riding, rafting and kayaking, para-sailing and hang gliding, mountain climbing, and salsa dancing are just a few of the many activities you can enjoy in Colombia. Perhaps you might enjoy even something as relaxing and “mundane” as seeing how many of the over 3500 species of orchids that are indigenous to Colombia that you can find. Colombia truly does have activities for EVERYONE.

The cruise ship industry has also experienced the increased interest and demand for Colombian travel, with cruise sales to Colombia increasing over 16% in 2010 alone. Royal Caribbean and Princess Cruises now offer itineraries docking in Cartagena. Celebrity Cruises, See Tours, Holland America, Silver Cruises, Azamara Cruises, MTC Hamburg and Seabourn all offer service as well, with additional ports of call in Santa Marta and San Andres. In excess of 450,000 passengers set foot on Colombian soil during the 2010 cruise season, a figure that has climbed significantly in subsequent years. The 2010 tour season also saw the maiden voyage of the luxury cruise ship “Sea Voyager” cruising between Panama and Buenaventura, Colombia, with stops along the way at Malaga, Bahia Solano, and Nuqui Utria. Operated by Aviatur Travel, the Sea Voyager provides a truly unique opportunity to travel the largely unpopulated, unexplored, pristine Pacific Coast, with amazing diving and whale-watching opportunities along the way.

Clearly, access to the beauty and culture and people that IS Colombia has never been more convenient or easier… access to the “passion” has never been made more enticing. The time has never been better for both exploring this wonderful land and at the same time gaining valuable in-country insight and hard-facts knowledge of the investment climate and opportunity as well.

To retire in Colombia, you can do it in a number of different ways. A pensioner’s visa, requires the equivalent of 3 minimum salaries or approximate $1,000 USD per month (2013, one minimum salary – 589.500 COP) . The investment of approximately $35,000 USD in a Colombia corporation, depending on the exchange rate will allow you to apply a Special Temporary Visa. With the new immigration laws that have come into effect as of July 2013, you can also apply for this same type of visa with 350 times the current Colombian minimum wage listed above. For an investment of 600 times the minimum salary in real estate or shares and stocks bonds in a Colombian corporartion, you have the ability to apply for an Indefinite Resident Visa. Please review our article on visas. Remember nothing guarantees you a visa. The final decision is always at the discretion of the reviewing Immigration officer. For more information please contact the law firm Steckenreiter Serna and Associates at info@steckenreiterserna.com

In the large urban centers medical treatment is excellent. Colombia has some of the finest hospitals in Latin America. If you arrive before your 60th birthday you can purchase a private health care plan that rivals any in the ”First World” for a very reasonable price. The other alternatives are discussed on the Colombian portal of Escape Artist.

As Colombia has not had a large influx of retirees, it is not quite as advanced as some of the other Latin American countries in ”special deals” for seniors. There is however a law, Act 1171, brought in by the former President Uribe, which provides benefits to ensure that people older than 62 have rights to education, recreation and health. These include a 50 percent discount at the box office for public entertainment, cultural, sporting, artistic and recreational activities that are performed in settings that belong to the nation or international bodies. The law states that these people also have a fifty percent discount on the cost of tuition at institutions of higher education, when they decide to advance studies in these institutions (this may not apply at private institutions). Additionally, systems that service urban mass transit passengers, are suppose to establish a differential rate for seniors, less than the ordinary rate and museums and cultural centers are to allow free admission to their facilities when they are open to the public.

The opportunity also exists to give back to Colombia. There are great needs to be filled in this adopted land of ours. Your expertise, time and patience can make the world of difference to a child or student or family. We will explore many options on how this can be done through our ”Give Back” Category on the Colombia Portal.
Let Escape Artist Colombia show you how to LIVE, PLAY, RETIRE and enjoy all of the lifestyle options available to you in this land of passion…this land called Colombia. We want to have a great time and enjoy everything this wonderful country and people have to offer, but by sharing some of that new found freedom by Giving Back or by Paying Forward we have the opportunity to make a profound impact on those around us.